20 February 2017

Inalienable Rights

The Washington state supreme court ruled unanimously last week that a florist could not refuse to sell flowers for a same-sex wedding on religious grounds. While this is a state court decision and not binding on other states, the case has nonetheless been closely watched by civil rights and LGBT rights advocates because of possible national implications.

The florist's attorney has said they will now appeal to the United States Supreme Court. There is no guarantee, however, that the high court justices will take the case.

The state supreme court asserted some powerful arguments in its ruling. Per the court, this case "is no more about access to flowers than civil rights cases in the 1960s were about access to sandwiches," echoing back to the days more than a half century earlier when businesses refused to serve African-Americans and other minorities.

The court also said "public accommodations laws do not simply guarantee access to goods or services. Instead, they serve a broader societal purpose: eradicating barriers to the equal treatment of all citizens."

While discrimination cases are not new, this decision is important because it equates same-sex couples' rights with other persecuted individuals like interracial couples in the era of segregation.

The state's attorney general later said this month's case was a landmark because it established "sexual orientation is a protected class — just like race, just like religion."

If you'd like to read the Washington supreme court decision, it's available online free here in its entirety on the state's webpage.

This court ruling comes at an important time because of two related issues in the news.

First is the deceptively titled "First Amendment Defense Act" (FADA), a pending bill in Congress that Donald Trump has promised to sign. As I've written here before, FADA would allow anyone to discriminate against LGBT persons and others by simply claiming a religious basis.

Don't want gays in your restaurant or your medical office? With FADA passed, all you have to say is that it offends your religious beliefs.

Second is the potential seating of Neil Gorsuch, who was nominated by Trump recently to fill the current Supreme Court vacancy. Gorsuch has ruled in favor of discriminatory "religious exemption" cases in the past and could do so again if this florist case, or a similar one, came before the high court.

Here is where the rubber meets the road with Trump. It doesn't matter that he says he's pro-LGBT and once waved a rainbow flag upside down for two seconds. What matters is, as President, he has acted and will act to ensure that LGBT Americans are an inferior class who can be discriminated against at will on "religious" grounds for decades to come.

It's not what he says that makes him dangerous. It's what he's done and plans to do. Any LGBT person who continues to support him is only fooling him or herself about the dangers we all face.

1 comment:

  1. OMG! From this side of your border (Canada, Montréal) this is so hilarious and sad at the same.

    Here, lot of flowerists ARE GAY. LOL!

    But most of all, we don't have issues with that kind of particularities.

    For us gays and straights are living in peace for so many years that being gay is main stream and even for straights, having gay friends is well accepted and even in «fashion».

    So sad all those fights in your society about accepting gays and LGBT as equals to all other people of USA.


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